Prevent Identity Theft
This list summarizes some steps you might take to help protect your credit and protect yourself.
- Carefully review every credit card and bank statement for unauthorized charges.
- Burn or shred, with a cross-cut shredder, any mail or financial papers with your personal information on it. Never recycle them.
- Destroy all receipts, shipping slips and bills that use your credit card number.
- Never leave transaction receipts at ATM machines, on counters at financial institutions, or at gasoline pumps.
- Add a Consumer Credit Freeze to your credit file. A Credit Freeze simply means that new credit accounts will not be approved and your credit file cannot be accessed by anyone without your approval. Even if thieves have all of your personal identifying information, they still won’t be allowed to get credit in your name. Victims of identity theft that provide a copy of an identity theft report will receive a Consumer Credit Freeze at no charge from the three Credit Reporting Agencies.
- Call 1-888-5OPTOUT or visit OptoutPrescreen and ask to stop credit card companies from sending pre-approved credit card applications to your house. They are ticking identity theft time bombs.
- Ask your credit card firm to cease delivery of "convenience checks." They, too, are ticking time bombs.
- You're entitled to one free credit report from each credit reporting company each year. Get it as soon as possible and review it carefully. Order your free credit reports online at www.annualcreditreport.com
- Order a credit report a month or more before you make a big purchase or apply for credit, to be sure there are no surprises in your history.
- Hassle companies that ask for personal information, such as your phone number at a checkout line. The harder we make it on companies, the less they will be inclined to continue the practice.
- It's impossible to tell what's real and what's fake online. Just delete any e-mail that asks for personal information.
- Just hang up on telemarketers, particularly ones who seem to be fishing for personal information, like your birthday. Also, visit The National Do not Call Registry to keep Telemarketers from calling.
- Reduce unwanted junk mail by removing your name from the Direct Marketing Association (DMA) Member Prospect List. Removing your name may prevent you from receiving new catalogs, coupons, announcements about new businesses in your community, and notices of special offers.
Send a $1.00 check or money order (payable to DMA), include your name, address and telephone number, including area code to:
MAIL PREFERENCE SERVICE
Att: Dept: 27245208
DIRECT MARKETING ASSOCIATION
P.O. BOX 282
CARMEL NY 10512
- Limit the number of credit cards you hold, and thoroughly inspect your financial statements each month. Consumer rights quickly fade over time; the sooner you discover an identity theft incident, the better.
- Watch for your monthly financial statements and bills. If you don't get them when expected, contact the sender.
- Don't carry your social security card with you.
- Never use your social security card for identification.
- Most of the time you can't prevent an ID theft incident from occurring, because two-thirds of the time some company that leaked the data is to blame. So be prepared, and be organized. Save paper bank records for at least one year. You'll need them to prove your account balance in the event of an ID theft incident.